Sunday, 20 October 2013

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2013

11 Days to go people.  11 teensy tiny days until ghouls stalk the earth and around the world, 30,000 aspiring authors sharpen their pencils and boot up their netbooks. 

Yep.  It's nearly NaNoWriMo.  Are you NaNoing this year? 

For me, this is the big chance to get back on track. 2013 has been remarkable for its lack of creativity. Barely any painting. Barely any writing. Barely any photography. A smidgen of super cool crafting.  The upshot is that there is a little fracture in my soul. A thin fissure of ossifying matter where my creativity used to be.

That feeling when you haven't had the chance to write for about 12 months... 
Photo credit: Celso Flores/Creative Commons

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Start sharpening your wits for.... NaNoWriMo

Have you smelt it? There is a nip in the air which cuts through the low, deep gold sun and curls the edges of the fading leaves.

Autumn is coming, folks.  Once upon a time September meant new school uniforms and sharpened pencils. It meant the start of something. 



Happily it still does though. Well not the school uniform bit, but the rest.  Because about three years ago September was reborn for me.  That was the year I discovered NaNoWriMo.  

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Plots, portraits and getting a handle on your characters

Last November I was a mad-eyed participant in Nanowrimo - again.  I used it as a motivator to progress  Banshee, my novel about - guess what? A Banshee.

I LOVE Banshee. It's got something. Unfortunately it also lacked something.  Namely, a well thought out plot.

Doh! Who needs a plot when you have NANOWRIMO to  win? Well, as it turns out, I do.

So, like so many other works, Banshee trailed away at the two thirds point, in a mess and a muddle of too many characters and no direction.

This is odd, as in my working life I'm all about the road-map.  I irritate my colleagues by using the phrase "direction of travel" more often than a politician can use the phrase "shovel-ready".  My mantra is always, if you don't know where you're going, how do you know you're walking in the right direction?

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Creative Commuting

Poor old Darcy to Dionysus has been neglected these last few months, due to the outrageous demands of real life. Job moves. House moves. IT difficulties and other demands have conspired to make Meg a dull girl.

And i've been Searching for Superwomen which has led to a major geek revival at Chez McNulty. Trawling through back copies of the Silver Surfer can take its toll on a girl. Cosmic surfboards to see, planets to save - you know the score.

No more. Because as of August I have 1.5 hours a day sitting on a bus and that, dear friend is MY TIME- and I have plans. Step one in my mission to refuel creatively is to tool up. I've got myself a neat piece of kit - a tablet that turns into a netbook. It's called a transfomer. I like to call it Optimus.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Strawberries and Black Pepper - the Pursuit of Happiness

Seems it's my week for Getting Philosophical.  A few days I was pondering as to whether, as a feminist and a romance reader, I was hopelessly conflicted.  Happily, I decided not.

Today's philosophical question is whether it's possible to pursue happiness.  Is happiness an end in and of itself? 

This stems from a conversation I had recently with a nonagenarian friend and her husband. Having ninety years under your belt has a way of giving you a long view.  Her insights are astonishing and often, beautiful.

Is there any point in pursuing happiness, we pondered? 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Romance and Feminism - happy bedfellows?


Sci Fi Author, Kameron Hurley
A few weeks ago I started contributing to The World’s Most Amazing Blog A.K.A Searching for SuperWomenI blogged about Searching for SuperWomen here.

I am also a contributor to another fantabulous blog, The RomanchicsI blogged about The Romantics here.

So here’s my dilemma.   

Is it possible to love romance and to be a feminist?  

Moreover, is it possible to write romance and be a feminist?  Historical romance?  Paranormal romance?


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Searching for Superwomen is launched!

As seen on Classics Matters
Life has been BUSY folks.

Real, grown up life has been destroying my creative muse like some sort streptococcal flesh-eating bacteria. House buying.  Jobs. Parenting.  And let's not forget social media...

Considering that The World's Best Critique Partner, Jessica Baker, has just doubled the size of her family by delivering twins and is STILL managing to write despite having no sleep at all, this is totally shameful (but congratulations Jess!). 

But let us not repine. I've squeezed in some creativity around the edges.  I participated in Our Dark Faery Queen's Writerly Bridal Shower (read the book - it's free on Smashwords and it's fabulous!). I brought a Medieval Knight to life.  And I wrote a couple of random stories inspired by 1. leaving my current job working with scientists... ahhhh I will miss them and 2. my current fixation with superheroes.

Which brings me on to Searching for Superwomen, the brain child of the super fabulous Emmie Mears and her fantastic co-conspirators Fran Roberts and Kristy Lyseng. I'm super excited (everything is super when you're dealing with Superwomen) to make a fourth in this new crime-fighting operation.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Selkie Song... for a Selkie Queen

If like magical romance, lurk on Twitter or have a secret obsession with selkies you cannot be unaware  that 25 April is....


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

DFQWBS Entry... A Knight's Tale


It is my enormous pleasure to proffer a humble contribution to the Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower AKA #DFQWBS.  This challenge is the brainchild of three wonderful writers, Laura, Miranda and Rebekah, conceived as a literary celebration of the wedding of the fantabulous Dark Fairy Queen herself, the ever wondrous Anna Meade, to her beloved Michael. 


Thursday, 7 March 2013

[Very Inspiring] 2012 Blog[ger] of the Year

The lovely Melpomene Selemidis nominated me for a Blog of 2012 award - a lovely gesture and even more meaningful coming from a poet and writer of her talent. Make sure you check out her blog - all passion, music and drama! 

Just as pleasingly, witty and gritty romantic suspense writer, the fabulous Incy Black nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger award.  If you want to cry with laugher, read Incy's fantastic original blog post. It's brilliant! And so is she. 

I decided, in the spirit of not talking excessively about myself to combine the two memes. Here's the rules: 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Back in the Saddle... Well, nearly

The last few weeks have slid by in a confusing maelstrom of work, moving house, sickness and family woes all at the same time. You know that one?  The one where you're up all night with a vomiting child and trying to sort out mortgage applications in your lunch (half)hour.

Inevitably some things slide.  Sadly, blogging is one of them, tragically writing is another.  

It's a funny one, the writing thing. In times of emotional stress writing can be incredibly cathartic - if not in acute phase, then certainly as things start to process. Bereavement and break ups have both stimulated a great outpouring of creativity.  

Saturday, 19 January 2013

15 Year Olds Can Have Personalities Too

In the last two weeks I've read two young adult books.

One was Robin in the Hood by Diane J Reed.

One was Enlightened by Devyn Dawson.

Both came with great reviews, so my expectations were set relatively high. I read Robin first and anyone that follows me on Twitter will know what I thought of it.



I loved it.  I loved Robin's character, I loved the patchwork, eccentric, touch of magic world that Diane created.  I loved the character arc and the growth and change that Robin experienced.  And I loved the spark and emotional resonance between Robin and the utterly intriguing love interest, Creek.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Announcing... The Romanchics

I love my Darcy to Dionysus blog, so I do.  I get to....


It's all very cathartic but ever so slightly random.

So when the lovely Aimee Duffy suggested a blog focused on romance I thought, "What the heck! Why not?"

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

#12Masque: The Judge's Choice!

And now, finally, the prize that has caused passionate debate across time zones and oceans.... the #12Masque Scaramouche Prize for the Judge's Choice entry.

Firstly, a BIG THANK YOU to judges Kern Windwraith AKA @oddparticle, Jenn AKA @BrewedBohemian and The Silver Elf who doesn't engage social media but reads a LOT of books.

The judges spent hours reading every entry and looking at criteria like adherence to theme, imagery, grammar and spelling, compelling and original voices and overall general impression and urge to re-read (thanks to Kern for coming up with these criteria - she is a Super Judge, Simon Cowell should be shaking in his shoes).

Monday, 14 January 2013

#12Masque WINNER: Most Evocative Story or Poem

Being far too excited to wait until Wednesday, it is my enormous pleasure to announce the winner of the Bauta Prize for the Most Evocative Story or Poem

This prize was judged by Irina Jauhianen.  Irina is a poet, literary enthusiast and co-founder of London's latest poetry and music night Until the Light Goes Out which opens on 4th February in Islington's Library Bar.  


The Bauta Prize includes: 

  • A bespoke poem written just for them (or for a loved one), written by London-based poet and musician, Michael Clift, plus a signed copy of Music Under the Skin, his first poetry collection. 
  • A unique commemorative bookmark crafted from upcycled fabric and a miniature mask.
  • A handcrafted miniature notebook for jotting down more sweet words courtesy of the Silver Elf. 
  • A £10/$10 Amazon gift voucher.  

Without further ado, the Runner's Up in this category were:

Sunday, 13 January 2013

#12Masque Fan Fave: WINNER!

Ladies and gentlemen, the last 24 hours have been a frenzy of voting!  

Your stories have enchanted and amused , broken hearts, thrilled and enthralled. I hope all the participating writers have enjoyed the enthusiastic comments on their stories.  The fan votes showed that EVERY STORY has its fans - the voting has been nail bitingly close!

Voting has closed with nearly 100 votes cast.  It is time to reveal the Fan's Choice winner.

But first, the talented silver medalist Runners Up....



The Runners Up in the #12Masque Fans' Favourite Vote are...   

Ruth Long's Unmasked



 Ma cherie, I warned you. I do not play at love..."

Ruth's dandy highwayman shed his mask and gained all our hearts. A wonderful whirlwind romance with a devil-may-care hero, if you haven't read it, make sure you do!  

Please join me in congratulating Ruth!  You can find her on Twitter as @bullishink or over on her blog at: Bullish Ink.  My question is, is THIS the soundtrack to her story or is THIS (sing along now!)? 

Melpomene Selemidis' The Seduction of the Minotaur 





"Deep down in the dark labyrinthe maze of her mind..." 

Melpomene's poignant and poetic retelling of Ariadne and the Minotaur stole the poetry-loving vote overnight with its dramatic evocation of an ancient myth.  Read it here.

Please join me in congratulating poet Melpomene! You can find her on Twitter at @Melpomuse or on her blog Musings of Melpomene

Now finally.... the vote you have all been waiting for: the Fan's Favourite



With by far the largest share of the votes I am delighted to announce that the Fan's Choice and winner of the Volto Prize is.....

*drum roll*

*dramatic pause*

*hushed silence*

You chose.... 


Sophie Moss' Rose Petal Masquerade 




"I’d worn the mask of motherhood, wife, cook, chauffeur, teacher, counselor for so long; it was my portrait now." 


Sophie's tender romance showed us the masks that life carves upon our faces and that true love is everlasting.  Sophie is the author of two beautiful romances, the Selkie Spell and the Selkie Enchantress, an avid reader of fairy tales and a green-fingered goddess with a penchant for Guinness.  

Please join me in congratulating Sophie on winning the Fan's Vote for the Twelfth Night Masquerade Flash Fiction Contest and the Volto Prize!

*pops champagne and tosses confetti* 

You can find her on Twitter as @SMossWrites or on her blog over at Sophie Moss Writes


Woot! Woot! Hurrah! Hurray! 

To find out all about the Volto Prize, check out Prizes! Judges!


***

Huge thanks to all the writers and poets who participated in #12Masque and all the people who took the time to read their work, comment, share and vote.

Check in on Wednesday 16 January Monday 14 January to find out the Poet's Choice for the most Evocative story or poem and Tuesday 15 January to find out the Judge's Choice of best overall entry. 

Particular thanks to the judges Irina, Kern, Jenn and the Silver Elf for taking the time to pore over all the stories and give their considered verdict!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

#12Masque entry 26: And a Cape to Match by @Lastwordy


STORY TWO: AND A CAPE TO MATCH by @lastwordy 


The mattress nearly came apart under my hands as I dug around its seams and springs. I said a silent prayer that whatever might be crawling around in there would stay far the fuck away from my searching fingers; the damn thing was probably paradise for all manner of fleas, roaches, vermin, and whatever assorted biohazards had accumulated from years of the homeless and the junkies using it as a place to crash.

I had to tear holes in five different places before my fingers brushed something that wasn’t springs or foam. The cloth was still silky; it flowed like water as I pulled it from its hiding place. No moth holes. No smell of piss or mold or decay to add insult to old injury. That was some small justice, I supposed. The mask was pinned inside, the safety pin that held it a rusting, crumbling tetanus waiting to happen.

The cape was just as I remembered it, the payoff for years of searching, following vague leads on the trail of a madwoman long dead — at least, as far as we knew. I wondered how she’d finally kicked it, if it was drugs or the booze or just age that got her. It’s funny how memory works, isn’t it? I’d managed to block out most of the screaming and the overdoses, the times she was off her meds and disappeared for days and weeks until the day she left for good. OK, so years of therapy probably helped that. And now the strongest image was here, in my hand – a red cape that once wrapped around a fever-wracked five year old who was shivering on dinosaur sheets. 

We all want to believe our parents are superheroes. Trouble is, sometimes they believe it too.

#12Masque Entry 25: @LastWordy


STORY ONE: TONGUES OF FIRE by @LastWordy 


They were going to go to Venice. Not for a honeymoon; they were beyond such traditional notions as 'marriage' and the bourgeois need for a 'license' to prove their love. Theirs was unprovable. Undefinable. And what better place to celebrate than Carnevale?


She planned her dress with as much excitement as any spring bride. It had to be the perfect match for her Columbina-- traced with gold and feathered like tongues of fire -- and the perfect contrast to his silvery, blue and green two-faced Bauta--her own Janus, god of transition, master of beginnings.

The fabric was shimmering orange silk, the trim deep ivory lace with touches of brown silk ribbons. Orange for fire, lust, energy; ivory for not-quite-white-and-who-have-believed-it-if-she'd-tried; brown for him, and his velvet eyes.  

Everything was perfect and packed when she found the notes in his pocket (served her right for offering to pack for him, served him right for letting her). Less then five minutes on the computer later, she smashed her phone and left the slightly-bloodied pieces on top of it. 

She took only one suitcase. 

At the airport, she exchanged the ticket--bless his lying heart for full fare with insurance--for whatever flight was leaving next. At the Isla Mujeres airport, she bought three tiny bathing suits, a cheap black pushup bra with matching panties, two boxes of condoms, a bottle of hot cherry lubricant, beaded huaraches, a toothbrush, some sunscreen, and two lurid paperback novels. She handed the shared-account card to a family of seven on her way to the taxi. They spoke no English, but she was pretty sure they knew Mastercard. 

She never did go back for her suitcase. 

It was two days later and she was wearing a hat to shade her sunburned nose, in the kind of place where you were supposed to order beer in bottles or Evian with the safety seal intact. No ice. Or weird little green leaves floating in it. 

Mint, she thought. Menta. She was on her third one, with no one to stop her. And if they made her sick later, if she puked up her guts and shit out her glory in a tourist-class beachside hotel room toilet, so be it. She’d hold her own goddamn hair, muchas gracias.

She'd found the bar after walking until her feet were chafed smooth by the sand. It had a straw roof and colored lights, and the smell of charred meat made her mouth water. She ate carne asada with salsa verde and something called huitlachoche. She'd pointed to a drink that looked interesting; it arrived in a glass the size of a fish bowl. 

The waiter gave her two straws. She sipped lime, mint, and crunchy sugar through them both. The alcohol burned her tongue; the great round belly of the glass cooled her palm. She licked her lips, fully aware of the waiter, and the bartender, and the rumpled American businessmen two tables away. 

Who needed a mask? She'd found her fire.

#12Masque....PRIZES! JUDGES!

It's been a long wait....

There have been some wonderful stories....

And some fabulous poetry....

People have been hidden and revealed, there have been monsters and princess, there has been weeping and joy.  

NOW there are but TWELVE hours left until the close of #12Masque.

So I'd had better tell you about the prizes then hadn't I? 

Michael Clift, Poet 
The Bauta 
This the Prize for the Most Evocative Story or Poem. We want music to sing in your words! Imagery so rich and ripe that it bursts upon your senses. Figurative language and description so vivid that it paints a picture on your eyeballs.  

The Bauta prize winner will be awarded:

  • A bespoke poem written just for them (or for a loved one), written by London-based poet and musician, Michael Clift, plus a signed copy of Music Under the Skin, his first poetry collection. 
  • The winning entry will be read and recorded at Until The Light Goes Out (with the author's permission). 
  • A unique commemorative bookmark crafted from upcycled fabric and a miniature mask.
  • A handcrafted miniature notebook for jotting down more sweet words courtesy of the Silver Elf. 
  • A £10/$10 Amazon gift voucher. 
JUDGE: Irina Jauhiainen (AKA @imprisonedbeaut) is a poet, a full-time literature enthusiast and co-founder of London's latest monthly poetry and music night Until The Light Goes Out, which pilots on Monday the 4th of February in the Library Bar in Islington, London. 

Tiny handmade notebooks, barely bigger than a stamp


The Volto AKA the Fan's Favourite 
This is the prize for the entry which gets the most popular votes.

The Volto prize winner will be awarded:
  • A song of their choice, sung by the lovely Anna Meade. To hear Anna's dulcet tones check out her  #12Masque theme song
  • The opportunity to name the next design by UK artisan knitwear designer Patricia Martin
  • A unique commemorative bookmark crafted from upcycled fabric and the People's choice golden Volto mask.
  • A handcrafted miniature notebook for jotting down bite-size fiction courtesy of the Silver Elf. 
  • A £10/$10 Amazon gift voucher.
Voting will open on the entries at 12 noon GMT tomorrow and close the following day.  Votes can be made on the #12Masque page via InLinkz or by sending a tweet to @charitygirlblog #12Masque #FanFav and including the title and author and number of your chosen story. Please don't vote for more than two entries (I know it's hard to pick!).  And remember NOT to vote for any marked ineligible!

See foot of THIS POST for more detailed instructions on how to vote and to clock on thumbnails.



The Scaramouche AKA The Judge's Choice 
  • A book cover designed for a book or collection of their choice by moi, Meg McNulty
  • A unique commemorative bookmark crafted from upcycled fabric and a miniature mask
  • A handcrafted miniature notebook for writing more fantastic micro stories courtesy of the Silver Elf.
  • A voucher for The Literary Gift Company.

JUDGES: Who other than fabulous Fictionistas: Kern Windwraith  AKA @theoddparticle (who has kindly provided a prize for the contest) and Jenn AKA @BrewedBohemian?  Our special guest judges are The Silver Elf, a London based artisan craftswoman and voracious reader (she lives in a library) and poet Irina Jauhiainen AKA @imprisonedbeaut

Now the prizes have been revealed and the judges named, let's race to the finish line!

HURRY! VOTING CLOSES AT MIDDAY 13 JANUARY 2013 (GMT)


You can vote for up to TWO stories - voting closes midday (GMT) Sunday 13 January 2013. There are THREE ways of voting. 

1.Click on the vote button below the thumbnail. Voting closes tomorrow.

2.Vote via Twitter by sending a Tweet to @charitygirlblog with the hashtags #12Masque #FanFav and including author, story number and story title (if known). 

3.Vote by leaving a comment below the contest post on DarcytoDionysus, including author name, story number and title (if known).

WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY 17 JANUARY 2013. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Mask: #12 Masque Entry



I thought it was only right that if I was hosting #12Masque I should also be contributing.  Put your money where your mouth is and all that. 

My story is inspired by an image that I found disturbing - it took me outside of the mystery of the masquerade and made me think about the masks people wear, all the time and in lots of different ways. The faces people put on to make things better, to get by, to hide and to reveal.  




The Mask

The scar seemed to shimmer on her wrist, livid against her pale skin. A brand, or a summons. Veronica hunched her knees up to her chest, tight as a drawbridge.  She smelled stale, sleep-warmed. She hadn’t showered in two days.  Impossible to close her eyes.  In the darkness all she could see was slick edged razors against her skin, opening her up.

She needed to open up before she collapsed in and became a black hole, consuming anything that came too close. Or anyone.

Heat slithered down her cheeks, pooling in damp patches on the faded duvet cover.   She tasted salt on her cracked lips.

Make it stop.

You can make it stop.

But she couldn’t, not with Gracie and Ella sleeping next door, sticky haired and flushed, chubby arms thrown out wide with the confidence of the loved.

How long had it been? Two days? Two weeks? Two months?  Did it matter?

“Ronnie?”  Her husband called from downstairs.  “Are you awake?”

Quickly, she scrubbed her salt-streaked face, sucked in a deep breath.  “I’ll be down in a sec.”

***

Kieran looked round as the kitchen door banged open.  “Shona popped by with some work stuff for you.”

“Great.”  He watched as his wife flashed a brief smile, tucking her shirt into her waistband.  Not looking at him.  “You lost weight?”

“Me? I wish.”  Bright as a daffodil, she hid behind her compact, fingers rooting in her make up bag.  When she emerged it was with soot-coloured lashes and glossy pink lips. And that smile that looked like it had been plucked off a mannequin and glued to her face.  Not her smile.

“Ronnie are you okay?”  He reached out to touch her arm, but she was out of his reach before his fingers brushed her silk sleeve.  It was like grappling with a will O' the wisp.

She didn’t answer.  “The kids are still asleep.  Can you wake them?”

“Sure.  Ronnie-”

But she was gone, the backdoor slamming behind her. 

***

“How did it happen?”  Kieran looked up at the young policewoman sitting awkwardly on the edge of the chair.  His chest felt lead-lined, saturated.  The enormity of what she had just said was impossible to comprehend.

“She just stepped out in front of the lorry.  He couldn’t avoid her.”

“Jesus. Oh Jesus.”  His voice broke and he knew shame.  A man should be strong. 

“I’m sorry Mr Hughes.” 

“What will I tell the girls?”

“You’ll put a brave face on. Children are resilient.”

“Yeah.”

***

“She’s dead,” Ella said. Six years old eyes, clear with certainty.  “She isn’t an angel. Mummy didn’t believe in angels.”

“She was sad,” Gracie whispered. 

Kieran sat on the bedroom floor and picked up a doll, staring down at it.  “She was sad?”

“Her eyes were all red when she wasn’t wearing her face.”

"Her face?"

A sudden memory. Ronnie standing in the bathroom, lipstick in hand. “Just let me put my face on.”

Putting his head in his hands, he wept.

Now for the other tales... 


RED ALERT!! Due to a Blog Malfunction  and a misunderstanding with Inlinkz @lastwordy and @DavidALudwig's stories weren't posted.  It's too late to add them to the InLinkz voting, but please do read and consider their stories when judging the Fan's Favourite! 

25. Tongues of Fire by @lastwordy 


26. And a Cape to Match by @lastwordy 

27. Masquerade by @DavidALudwig


HURRY! VOTING CLOSES AT MIDDAY 13 JANUARY 2013 (GMT)


You can vote for up to TWO stories - voting closes midday (GMT) Sunday 13 January 2013. There are THREE ways of voting. 

1.Click on the vote button below the thumbnail. Voting closes tomorrow.

2.Vote via Twitter by sending a Tweet to @charitygirlblog with the hashtags #12Masque #FanFav and including author, story number and story title (if known). 

3.Vote by leaving a comment below the contest post on DarcytoDionysus, including author name, story number and title (if known).

Remember, you can't vote for THIS entry - it's ineligible! 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Twelfth Night Masquerade Flash Fiction Contest

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." - Oscar Wilde

 

Ladies and gentlemen, roll up, roll up.  

On Christmas day Stacey Bennett-Hoyt launched her fabulous 12 Days of Christmas blog hop (#12DayBop).  Our scribing is over, our trembling fingers close - what now?

With festive feasting drawing to an end and the winter nights draping midnight silk around our heated homes (Southern hemisphere excepted), the days creep inexorably to the night when all turns on its head....

That's right. 






Twelfth night.  The last day of Christmas, the end of the pagan winter festival, the night when the Lord of Misrule takes centre stage, lords become servants and servants become lords.  Twelfth night, the start of the Carnival season. For the classicists amongst you, think of Janus, the two faced god whose festival heralds the start of the new year.

So don your masks and dominos and lift your cup of wassail.  Now our 12 days of fictioning are at an end, we're going to have a party - and you're the guest of honour. 




The Rules

Up to TWO (max) stories or poems of up to 500 words (brevity is the soul of wit).  

Inspiration:  Masks and Masquerades

Prompts:  If you need a prompt, check out the gorgeous masquerade pinterest board and pick a pin! 

Deadline: 00:00 EST, 12 January 2013 / 05:00 GMT, 12 January 2013 (6 days, ish) 

Hashtag:   #12Masque 

Swirling silk and dripping candles; dark forests and dripping trees; the laughter of the Lord of Misrule; the steaming cup of wassail; magic and fairy tales; people hiding behind masks - and revealing their true selves; masters becoming slaves and slaves becoming masters; silent canals and sliding gondolas; druids chanting in the frosted air; faery kings and glorious carnivals.... put on a mask and let your imagination go wild.

Tra La La......

And to inspire your writing... a soundtrack, providing by the inimitable and ingenious Dark Faery Queen Anna Meade over at Anna Songs.  Click here to listen to Masquerade and My Immortal

The Prizes

Oh yes - there are prizes! Bespoke, unique, you-can-only-find-them-here objects of desire.  Drop by to find out more soon!  


Sign Up

Don't forget to sign up here once you have posted your story.  Linking up will allow other people to drop by your story and help you to find everyone else's stories.  Spread the love! Add your link below and get the InLinkz code. If you don't have a blog but still want to play, email me at meg AT darcytodionysus.com and I will post your story for you.

Oh! And last of all - here's a handy web badge for you! Right click to download...

with thanks to Alaskan Dude for licensing the original image under a CC license

"And, after all, what is a lie? 'Tis but the truth in a masquerade." - Alexander Pope

*****


RED ALERT!! Due to a Blog Malfunction  and a misunderstanding with Inlinkz @lastwordy and @DavidALudwig's stories weren't posted.  It's too late to add them to the InLinkz voting, but please do read and consider their stories when judging the Fan's Favourite! 

25. Tongues of Fire by @lastwordy 


26. And a Cape to Match by @lastwordy 

27. Masquerade by @DavidALudwig

You can vote for up to TWO stories - voting closes midday (GMT) Sunday 13 January 2013. There are THREE ways of voting. 

1.Click on the vote button below the thumbnail. Voting closes tomorrow (2 votes permitted).

2.Vote via Twitter by sending a Tweet to @charitygirlblog with the hashtags #12Masque #FanFav and including author, story number and story title (if known). 

3.Vote by leaving a comment below this post, including author name, story number and title (if known).

Check in on Wednesday 16 January Monday 14 January to find out the Poet's Choice for the most Evocative story or poem and Tuesday 15 January to find out the Judge's Choice of best overall entry. 

12 Days Blog Hop: Moon... AND A NEW CONTEST

Ladies and gentlemen!  It's day ELEVEN of Stacy Bennett-Hoyt's (AKA @rowanwolf66) festively fabulous 12 Days of Christmas blog hop.

Do not fear.  Do not weep. We've had 12 solid days of writing. We're read some wonderful tales from some fantabulous writers.  Now it's time for a PARTY!

Yes folks, it's 12th Night and that means it's time for a Ball.  A masquerade ball.  And YOU'RE invited.  Just click here to find out more!



Okay, back to the blog hop: 12 Days, 12 Stories, each 200-300 words.  The contest theme is gifts and each day has a prompt.  Today's is:

MOON



“I want a star,” the King shouted.  “My heir must be brave and bold, fearless of obstacles.  Bring me a star on a plate.” 

His two sons looked at each other.  They had found princesses, slain wild beasts but now the man dealt in impossibilities.  Courtiers whispered of madness.  His sons did not disagree.

“I will fetch you a star,” said Garth.  Handsome and rich, he would pay the court jeweller a million gold marks to create the most beautiful star the world had ever seen.

“As will I,” said Henry.  Strong and fearless, he would journey to far off lands in his quest for the King’s pleasure.

His daughter, Jusanna, shrugged.  Plain and clever, she was despised by her arrogant sire.  “Why bother with a star?” she said.  “There are dozens of stars in the sky.  Do you not wish for something unique?  I will fetch you the moon and give it to you this very night.” 

The King roared with laughter.  “A woman?” he scoffed, glancing at his sons.  “Very well. Bring me the moon and the kingdom is yours.”  His smile faded. "Fail and a convent is your fate." 

“Meet me in the courtyard at midnight,” the girl said.  “The moon shall be yours.”

No braziers flickered to light the King’s way, nothing but the icy brilliance of the stars.  His daughter stood in the courtyard.  “Behold,” she said, her hand sweeping the air.

At his feet lay the bright sphere of the moon, glowing white and dappled with silver.  The King fell back, words stuttering on his lips.  “Sorcery,” he whispered. 

“If I can pull the moon from the sky, imagine what else I can do?” Jusanna said.

The King ran inside.

Jusanna smiled and stirred the courtyard pool.  The moon shattered into a thousand pieces. 

CC image by the Dull Fig

When I originally wrote this story and read it to my five year old daughter, it was a story about three sons.  "What about the princesses?" she asked.  "Where are they?"  That was a wake up call - why not have a strong and clever heroine?  Thus Jusanna was born - named by my daughter.

Friday, 4 January 2013

12 Days Blog Hop: FEAST

It's day ELEVEN of Stacy Bennett-Hoyt's (AKA @rowanwolf66) festively fabulous 12 Days of Christmas blog hop.



12 Days, 12 Stories, each 200-300 words.  The contest theme is gifts and each day has a prompt.  Today's is:

FEAST


The feast was wholesome but dull. Mounds of apples fragranced the air, loaves too - home-baked, of course. No shop bought nonsense for the upstanding mothers of Paloosa. No liquor either. Temperance ruled the white picket fences.

If Dionysus hadn’t been so bored, he might have left them to it.  But it had been millennia since the God of Wine had had a really good party.

Unlucky.

Annabeth Williams was on the door, an imposing presence to dissuade any less desirable elements from joining the community celebration. Broad hipped and narrow minded, she had the kind of bosom that used to adorn the prows of ships back in the good old days, days when the gods had heroes to play with instead of housewives.  A regular Tupperware tyrant.

But when she saw who approached she smiled. 

“Gracie,” she said in the voice she reserved for girls that would never pose a threat to her maternal supremacy.  No lipstick smeared floozy, Gracie. Annabeth’s sons were safe.

Gracie smiled her pale smile and tucked one limp strand of hair behind her ear.  “I brought meatloaf.”

“You go right on in.”  Annabeth didn’t look back over her shoulder, as Gracie hurried past.  She didn’t see her smile change.

It took three years for the Paloosians to come to terms with The Incident. No one could have anticipated the madness that overtook the Mother’s Society, the wildness with which they tore apart the church hall, bare breasted and smeared with food.

Annabeth’s absence scarred the town, but she was better where she was, in the secure unit at the state penitentiary.  A woman who ripped off her own son’s head really had no place in Paloosa.

And Gracie?  Turned out she was a man. Dion, or something.

Unmarried women were always a risk. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

12 Days Blog Hop: Spirit


It's day TEN of Stacy Bennett-Hoyt's (AKA @rowanwolf66) festively fabulous 12 Days of Christmas blog hop.


12 Days, 12 Stories, each 200-300 words.  The contest theme is gifts and each day has a prompt.  Today's is:

SPIRIT


The vial was green, its contents opalescent.  Sotero the Solemn lifted it to the moonlight jubilation slashing a smile on his long face.  At long last he had discovered the secret his alchemist grandfather had failed to find.  He had unlocked the key to eternal life.

Sotero’s Superb Spirit Sucking Service would make him his fortune.  Forever.

Centuries stretched out ahead of him, saturated with power and wealth - and knowledge.  All that time, all those discoveries.  The sweet taste of knowledge slid potent as mead on his tongue.

Reverently, he placed the trapped spirit on his bookshelf and went downstairs for supper.  Genius had a way of making a man hungry.  He might be immortal, but he still had to eat.

***

Agnes liked her job.  It was interesting poking around a warlock’s lair, dusting his magical artefacts and polishing his cauldron.  He worked hard and she admired that in a magic worker.  Too many lazy buggers around, peddling quack potions.

Lost in thought, she didn’t notice the vial before it was too late. The stone flags smashed it in an instant releasing a greenish vapour that coiled around her sweet as sin.

A voice whispered, unseen hands stroking across her skin, settling like a silken cloak.  She tried not to breathe, failed.  Sinking to her knees, she fainted.

***

Ten minutes later, Sotero stumbled over her body.  “Agnes?” he said.  Her eyes snapped open and he noticed her skin was smoother, her hair lighter.  “Agnes?” The woman repeated, her voice curiously low. “I’m Phil. And you’re the guy who stole my soul.”

Genius not withstanding, it seemed the process needed a little work.  Thank goodness for experimental models.  He would hire a new cleaner in the morning.

Image by Masha Falcov on Etsy



Wednesday, 2 January 2013

12 Days Blog Hop: Stories

It's day NINE of Stacy Bennett-Hoyt's (AKA @rowanwolf66) festively fabulous 12 Days of Christmas blog hop.  My story today is a tribute to our very own wolf hostess!



12 Days, 12 Stories, each 200-300 words.  The contest theme is gifts and each day has a prompt.  Today's is:

STORIES


“Let me tell you a story,” her grandmother said.  Frost whispered down her spine, gnawing at her red raw knuckles but Griselda didn’t care. Not so long as Nonna had a story to tell.  Her rasping voice drove away the winter’s bite, quietened the ache of hunger in their bellies.  

“What is it about?” Petyr asked, jumping ahead as he always did.

Nonna laid one gnarled hand on his white blonde hair.  “Patience, little one.”

They knew all about patience, about waiting.  It had been three nights since their father had gone into dark forest in search of food.  Three nights of howling amongst the trees.  Of hunger.

She spoke of humans who became wolves, savage and wild.  Of a huge white moon and a fine lady lost in the woods in fear of her life.  Of the wolf prince who fell in love with her.  Of the son she bore.

“It was a long time ago,” Nonna murmured. “A long, long time ago.”

The last of the firewood crumbled in the grate and the night drew in.  The children lent against her patched skirts, yawning. In the end they slept, as the light from the full moon glistened like etched silver on the dirt floor.

A howl woke Griselda. She climbed to her feet, pressing her nose to the window.  “Wolves,” she whispered.  Amber eyes glinted in the night and she saw him, the alpha, staring at the cottage.  Their eyes met.  Turning, he limped away.

Sleep eluded her that night.

Dawn had streaked the sky like blood before the door rattled.  The door flung open and he filled the doorway, arms filled with firewood, a deer slung across his broad shoulders.

“Papa!”

Wild haired and huge, his golden eyes were warm with love.  Smiling, he limped towards them.



Tuesday, 1 January 2013

12 Days Blog Hop: Sea

It's day EIGHT of Stacy Bennett-Hoyt's (AKA @rowanwolf66) festively fabulous 12 Days of Christmas blog hop.




12 Days, 12 Stories, each 200-300 words.  The contest theme is gifts and each day has a prompt.  Today's is:

SEA


He lay in the shallows, the sea licking his skin like a lover.  It was a full moon, a night for magic.  He smelt it in the night air, heard it in the wind’s whisper stirring the waves.  Water splashed against his lips and his nostrils flared in recognition.  Three tears in the sea, a summons as old as the ancient reefs. Her taste was a fever in his blood, a compulsion. He must find her, or die.

***

Her husband was moving around upstairs, running the tap, shaving. Ordinary things, like nothing had changed. But it had. Barry’s cell phone sat in Jenna’s hand, a piece of dead plastic as destructive as an atom bomb. 

He’s having an affair. How had she not known? 

Impossible to stay staring at the Christmas tree. 

Unthinkable to shred his shirts or stab the tyres of his car. 

That was fantasy. Jenna dealt in reality.  In keeping up mortgage repayments and honouring vows.  In practicalities.

She moved before she had time to reconsider, had run from the house without grabbing the sensible wool coat hanging on the back of the door, run down to the sea, the one place in the world she had always felt free. She’d met a boy there once… but that was a fantasy too. Burying her hands in the cold sand, she wept for broken dreams.

Such a bloody waste.

If she’d heard a man approaching she probably would have run. She didn’t.  Not until he stood before her in the water, sleekly beautiful, wet hair streaming over his muscular shoulders.  He’ll catch pneumonia, she thought. Then she forgot to think, because his stare was liquid fire, scorching her grief chilled skin.

“Come.” He held out his hand.

“You came,” she whispered. “You’re not a dream at all.”   




Leaving 2012 and Starting 2013 - Heroes & Heartbreaks!

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2013!

It's time for a review of the year...

At the start of 2012 my single resolution was to take a chill pill and calm down. Find time to relax.

Did I manage that?

Er, no.

Probably would have been easier to have decided to lose four stone or run a marathon, seeing as this year has been the singularly most stressful year of my working life.  But no matter. I have put some balance into my life.



So what about WRITING GOALS?

Okay, I've deviated from my 2012 writing goals too.

I haven't rewritten Merely Players, but I have replotted it.

I am mid-way through redrafting / editing its sequel, Boundless as the Sea.  This wouldn't be possible without the brilliant and honest critique provided by the World's Finest Critique partner, Andrea AKA Jessica Baker, a wonderful romance author with a funny and delightful Regency romance which will soon be snapped up by a lucky publisher.

I have put Daughters on Leda on ice. Boo hoo. But not forever. Just until.... (?)

But I've half written a contemporary paranormal, Banshee, (thank you NANOWRIMO) which will be completed in 2013. My inspiration for writing that was a fabulous lady called Incy Black, part of a super special romance writing critique group the DASHING 100 (Aimee, Joanne and Andrea/Jessica you know who you are).

I have written lots of flash fiction - my absolute favourite being the ongoing 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop AKA #12DaysBop.  This is the brainchild of the wonderful Stacy Bennett-Hoyt.

Stacy is one of my super special FICTIONISTAS- four lovely, clever, creative and supportive writers who together form a very special community that has become my writerly spiritual home. I've a lot to thank these ladies for - laughter, support and help on every step of my writing journey. Thank you to Ruth, Kern, Stacy and Jenn for being so great.



Just like last year, the road to the supportive, funny and talented worldwide community of writers has been Twitter, the world's finest way of connecting with the world's finest people.  From fabulous FAIRY QUEENS (stand up Anna Meade, Diane J Reed, Sophie Moss, Afsaneh K and Otter AKA Ailsa Abraham) through to CLASSICAL MUSES (yoo hoo! Chris Ledbetter, Melanie Selemidis and Laura Shamas), HISTORIANS (yeay for Mathew Lyon), TEAM NANO (Laura James, Marjie Myers/Kate, Tony, Sarah, Miranda Kate and Rachel Brown who is a constant inspiration) and FLASH FICTIONEERS like Mark EthridgeJeffrey Hollar and Lisa Hollar (horror queen extraordinaire).

A big thank you to all of these people who made NaNoWriMo so much fun, who helped me through blockages, plot terrors and self doubt.  You're all writing super stars and I thank you all so much.

Resolution wise, this year I'm keeping it simple: Balance in all things. 

That's all.

Writing goal wise, I want to:

1. Finish #12DaysBop

2. Launch our 12th Night Masquerade Contest

3. Complete my edits on Boundless as the Sea.

4. Finish Banshee.

That is all.

It's still quite a lot.

Wish me luck!